In Dungeon World, there is a hireling skill-set called Tracker. It has two skills: Track and Guide. Guide is straight forward. However, Track doesn't make much sense to me as I've never been good at understanding what Ranger-type classes were really good for. (I'm a city slicker; what can I say?)

The description for the hireling skill Track follows:

When a tracker is given time to study a trail while Making Camp, when camp is broken they can follow the trail to the next major change in terrain, travel, or weather.

What does it mean to follow a trail to a change in terrain, travel, or weather? Wouldn't a change in terrain be obvious?

Dude: "Hey, look a mountain to the south-west."

Tracker: "Hmm, yes, to reach a mountain to the south-west... we must travel, SOUTH-WEST!"

A change in weather?

Dudette: "Wow it sure is pouring rain! The clouds to the north seem less dark and rainy and the wind is clearly blowing south. I wonder which way we could possibly go to avoid this downpour."

Tracker: "Hmm, I see you are in need of my specialized skills... if it is raining here, it is not raining to the north, and the wind is pushing our storm further south... we must head... NORTH! Yes, aren't you glad you pay me?"

I don't even know what a change in travel is.


2 Answers 2


It's referring to changes to the trail and its creator, not to you following it in the present.

Rain washes away tracks. If it has rained on the trail, that can cause enough issue to cause you to be unable to follow it further, or at least need to recheck. If the party you are tracking has deliberately attempted to change direction or their move of travel (such as from walking on a dirt forest floor to walking in a shallow stream bed), this could also make things more challenging.

In order to continue following a trail, you have to be right there on top of it. If you see a trail lead off into the mountains, yes, you can assume you should head to the mountains, but 1) you can't be sure unless you actually follow it all the way there, and 2) you wouldn't be able to pick up the trail again once you get there if you hadn't been following it the whole way.

Yes, you can avoid making sharp turns or going through storms under normal conditions of just traveling around the countryside, but the trail you're following and your quarry won't necessarily make things so convenient (intentionally, if they're smart!).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, so trails are things akin to footprints left by others, not well-beaten tracks left by wagons used by thousands of merchants. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2017 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BlackVegetable Of course. "When a tracker is given time to study a trail" - you don't need a tracker nor study to follow a well-worn road. This is for tracking in the wild wilderness, following a path of someone who probably doesn't want to be followed. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2017 at 21:06

The Vagueness Of "Trail"

When you pass through the wilderness, you make room for yourself in it. Soil is shifted, small plants are crushed, sturdier plants are toppled or broken. This is your trail.

If you find a likely path, you can plan to return the same way, or for other people to come after you. You make more room, smooth the path as best you are able, and perhaps blaze1 trees or rocks to point the way. This is also your trail.

1A "blaze" is a light-colored mark. The word was originally used to describe a natural color variation on the forehead of livestock, which in German was called a Blässe, deriving from blass, which means "pale".

When a Ranger follows a trail, it's specified as the first kind:

Hunt and Track

When you follow a trail of clues left behind by passing creatures, roll+WIS.

The Ranger is not following a path that was deliberately made and maintained so that others could use it, but instead the traces, or clues, these creatures made a consequence of their passing.

The Role of Hirelings

One of the GM moves is "offer an opportunity that fits a class's abilities". It says nothing about that class actually existing in the party.

One of the roles of hirelings is for those times when the players need to do something and don't have a class for it. A hireling can potentially fill in, for a cost in time and (usually) coin.

Viewed in this way, it's clearer what sort of trail the Tracker hireling is following with their Track skill: the same sort of trail a Ranger would be following, the clues left behind by passing creatures. They lose the trail the same way a Ranger would: when the creatures making it significantly change their primary direction or mode of travel. They're also not as skilled as the Ranger, so they can lose the trail in ways the Ranger wouldn't: when it passes onto different terrain, or is interrupted by a break in the weather.


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